Underground adventures

I have recently been working with a former colleague on a magazine called Tunnels & Tunnelling International. The editor left and so his deputy quickly found himself promoted, but he had no staff and needed a hand! The good thing for me is that it means doing a bit of everything from chasing and writing news pieces to editing technical papers. For example one was on the advantages and disadvantages of fibre reinforcement in underground structures.

This week I have been writing about a tunnel collapse in Albania on the Thirre tunnel near the town of Kalimash. The 5.5km NATM bore was complete but none of the fit out had yet taken place. Movement had been noticed weeks before and the volatile section had been closed off. Unfortunately the movement was not stopped and a 50m section collapsed. It is now being rebuilt with extra shotcrete, spiles and a substantial bench to support the walls. Information about the geology which might explain why it happened has not been released – all the client will say is that the geology is “unpredictable”.

Closer to home the Shetland Islands are contemplating a tunnel network to connect the islands. To date this had been considered too expensive but success with drill and blast tunnelling in Faroe – with its similar geography and island topography, has given the Shetlands confidence. The first forray will be a 1.6km link between Lerwick on the mainland and the Isle of Bressay. Further tunnels in Yell, Unst and Whalsay may follow. I plan to follow this story and write a feature about it…..


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